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Eight Essays From the Parerga. Arthur Schopenhauer - - Dover Publications. Essay Partly Posthumous in Ethics and Politics. Brough - - Ethics 8 2: Christi Favor , Gerald F. Essays on Politics, Ideology and Literature. Robert Grant - - Palgrave-Macmillan. The Nature of Moral and Political Knowledge. Alan Thomas - - Oxford University Press. Who is Authorized to Do Applied Ethics? But it is precisely through the controversies over this, together with the futile attempts to demonstrate the directly certain as merely indirectly certain, that the independence and clearness of intuitive evidence appear in contrast with the uselessness and difficulty of logical proof, a contrast as instructive as it is amusing.

The direct certainty will not be admitted here, just because it is no merely logical certainty following from the concept, and thus resting solely on the relation of predicate to subject, according to the principle of contradiction. But that eleventh axiom regarding parallel lines is a synthetic proposition a priori , and as such has the guarantee of pure, not empirical, perception; this perception is just as immediate and certain as is the principle of contradiction itself, from which all proofs originally derive their certainty.

At bottom this holds good of every geometrical theorem Although Schopenhauer could see no justification for trying to prove Euclid's parallel postulate, he did see a reason for examining another of Euclid's axioms. It surprises me that the eighth axiom, [] "Figures that coincide with one another are equal to one another", is not rather attacked.

For "coinciding with one another" is either a mere tautology , or something quite empirical , belonging not to pure intuition or perception, but to external sensuous experience. Thus it presupposes mobility of the figures, but matter alone is movable in space. Consequently, this reference to coincidence with one another forsakes pure space, the sole element of geometry , in order to pass over to the material and empirical. This follows Kant 's reasoning.

The task of ethics is not to prescribe moral actions that ought to be done, but to investigate moral actions. Philosophy is always theoretical: According to Kant's teaching of transcendental idealism, space and time are forms of our sensibility due to which the phenomena appear in multiplicity.

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Reality in itself is free from all multiplicity, not in the sense that an object is one, but that it is outside the possibility of multiplicity. From this follows that two individuals, though they appear as distinct, are in-themselves not distinct. The appearances are entirely subordinated to the principle of sufficient reason. The egoistic individual who focuses his aims completely on his own interests has therefore to deal with empirical laws as good as he can.

What is relevant for ethics are individuals who can act against their own self-interest. If we take for example a man who suffers when he sees his fellow men living in poverty, and consequently uses a significant part of his income to support their needs instead his own pleasures, then the simplest way to describe this is that he makes less distinction between himself and others than is usually made.

Regarding how the things appear to us, the egoist is right to assert the gap between two individuals, but the altruist experiences the sufferings of others as his own. In the same way a compassionate man cannot hurt animals, though they appear as distinct from himself. What motivates the altruist is compassion. The sufferings of others is for him not a cold matter to which he is indifferent, but he feels connected to all beings.

Compassion is thus the basis of morality. Schopenhauer calls the principle through which multiplicity appears the principium individuationis. When we behold nature we see that it is a cruel battle for existence. Individual manifestations of the will can maintain themselves at only at the expense of others—the will, as the only thing that exists, has no other option but to devour itself to experience pleasure. This is a fundamental characteristic of the will, and cannot be circumvented. Tormenter and tormented are one.

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Suffering is the moral retribution of our attachment to pleasure. Schopenhauer deemed that this truth was expressed by Christian dogma of original sin and in Eastern religions with the dogma of rebirth. He who sees through the principium individuationis and comprehends suffering in general as his own, will see suffering everywhere, and instead of using all his force to fight for the happiness of his individual manifestation, he will abhor life itself, of which he knows how inseparably it is connected with suffering.

A happy individual life midst of a world of suffering is for him like beggar who dreams one night that he is a king. Those who have experienced this intuitive knowledge can no longer affirm life, but will exhibit asceticism and quietism, meaning that they are no longer sensitive to motives, are not concerned about their individual welfare, and accept the evil others inflict on them without resisting. They welcome poverty, do not seek nor flee death. Human life is a ceaseless struggle for satisfaction, and instead of renewing this contract, the ascetic breaks it.

It matters little whether these ascetics adhered the dogmata of Christianity or Dharmic religions , since their way of living is the result of intuitive knowledge. The Christian mystic and the teacher of the Vedanta philosophy agree in this respect also, they both regard all outward works and religious exercises as superfluous for him who has attained to perfection. So much agreement in the case of such different ages and nations is a practical proof that what is expressed here is not, as optimistic dullness likes to assert, an eccentricity and perversity of the mind, but an essential side of human nature, which only appears so rarely because of its excellence.

Philosophers have not traditionally been impressed by the tribulations of sex, but Schopenhauer addressed it and related concepts forthrightly:. He named a force within man that he felt took invariable precedence over reason: Schopenhauer refused to conceive of love as either trifling or accidental, but rather understood it as an immensely powerful force that lay unseen within man's psyche , guaranteeing the quality of the human race:.

The ultimate aim of all love affairs What is decided by it is nothing less than the composition of the next generation It has often been argued that Schopenhauer's thoughts on sexuality foreshadowed the theory of evolution , a claim which seems to have been met with satisfaction by Darwin as he included a quote of the German philosopher in his Descent of Man after having read such a claim. Schopenhauer's politics were, for the most part, an echo of his system of ethics the latter being expressed in Die beiden Grundprobleme der Ethik , available in English as two separate books, On the Basis of Morality and On the Freedom of the Will.

Ethics also occupies about one quarter of his central work, The World as Will and Representation. In occasional political comments in his Parerga and Paralipomena and Manuscript Remains , Schopenhauer described himself as a proponent of limited government. What was essential, he thought, was that the state should "leave each man free to work out his own salvation ," and so long as government was thus limited, he would "prefer to be ruled by a lion than one of [his] fellow rats"—i.

Schopenhauer shared the view of Thomas Hobbes on the necessity of the state, and of state action, to check the destructive tendencies innate to our species. He also defended the independence of the legislative, judicial and executive branches of power, and a monarch as an impartial element able to practise justice in a practical and everyday sense, not a cosmological one.

Schopenhauer, by his own admission, did not give much thought to politics, and several times he writes proudly of how little attention he had paid "to political affairs of [his] day". In a life that spanned several revolutions in French and German government, and a few continent-shaking wars, he did indeed maintain his aloof position of "minding not the times but the eternities".

He wrote many disparaging remarks about Germany and the Germans. A typical example is, "For a German it is even good to have somewhat lengthy words in his mouth, for he thinks slowly, and they give him time to reflect. Schopenhauer attributed civilizational primacy to the northern "white races" due to their sensitivity and creativity except for the ancient Egyptians and Hindus, whom he saw as equal:. The highest civilization and culture, apart from the ancient Hindus and Egyptians, are found exclusively among the white races; and even with many dark peoples, the ruling caste or race is fairer in colour than the rest and has, therefore, evidently immigrated, for example, the Brahmans, the Incas, and the rulers of the South Sea Islands.

All this is due to the fact that necessity is the mother of invention because those tribes that emigrated early to the north, and there gradually became white, had to develop all their intellectual powers and invent and perfect all the arts in their struggle with need, want and misery, which in their many forms were brought about by the climate.

This they had to do in order to make up for the parsimony of nature and out of it all came their high civilization. Despite this, he was adamantly against differing treatment of races, was fervently anti-slavery, and supported the abolitionist movement in the United States.

He describes the treatment of "[our] innocent black brothers whom force and injustice have delivered into [the slave-master's] devilish clutches" as "belonging to the blackest pages of mankind's criminal record". Schopenhauer additionally maintained a marked metaphysical and political anti-Judaism. Schopenhauer argued that Christianity constituted a revolt against what he styled the materialistic basis of Judaism, exhibiting an Indian-influenced ethics reflecting the Aryan - Vedic theme of spiritual self-conquest.

He saw this as opposed to what he held was the ignorant drive toward earthly utopianism and superficiality of a worldly "Jewish" spirit:. While all other religions endeavor to explain to the people by symbols the metaphysical significance of life, the religion of the Jews is entirely immanent and furnishes nothing but a mere war-cry in the struggle with other nations.

The State, Schopenhauer claimed, punishes criminals to prevent future crimes. It does so by placing "beside every possible motive for committing a wrong a more powerful motive for leaving it undone, in the inescapable punishment. Accordingly, the criminal code is as complete a register as possible of counter-motives to all criminal actions that can possibly be imagined In Schopenhauer's essay On Women , he expressed his opposition to what he called "Teutonico-Christian stupidity" of reflexive unexamined reverence "abgeschmackten Weiberveneration" [] for the female.

Schopenhauer wrote that "Women are directly fitted for acting as the nurses and teachers of our early childhood by the fact that they are themselves childish, frivolous and short-sighted. He claimed that "woman is by nature meant to obey". The essay does give some compliments, however: Schopenhauer's writings have influenced many, from Friedrich Nietzsche to nineteenth-century feminists. When the elderly Schopenhauer sat for a sculpture portrait by the Prussian sculptor Elisabet Ney in , he was much impressed by the young woman's wit and independence, as well as by her skill as a visual artist.

I believe that if a woman succeeds in withdrawing from the mass, or rather raising herself above the mass, she grows ceaselessly and more than a man. Schopenhauer viewed personality and intellect as being inherited. He quotes Horace's saying, "From the brave and good are the brave descended" Odes , iv, 4, 29 and Shakespeare's line from Cymbeline , "Cowards father cowards, and base things sire base" IV, 2 to reinforce his hereditarian argument.

For Schopenhauer the "final aim of all love intrigues, be they comic or tragic, is really of more importance than all other ends in human life. What it all turns upon is nothing less than the composition of the next generation. It is not the weal or woe of any one individual, but that of the human race to come, which is here at stake. With our knowledge of the complete unalterability both of character and of mental faculties, we are led to the view that a real and thorough improvement of the human race might be reached not so much from outside as from within, not so much by theory and instruction as rather by the path of generation.

Plato had something of the kind in mind when, in the fifth book of his Republic , he explained his plan for increasing and improving his warrior caste. If we could castrate all scoundrels and stick all stupid geese in a convent, and give men of noble character a whole harem , and procure men, and indeed thorough men, for all girls of intellect and understanding, then a generation would soon arise which would produce a better age than that of Pericles.

In another context, Schopenhauer reiterated his eugenic thesis: This proposal constitutes my Utopia and my Platonic Republic. As a consequence of his monistic philosophy, Schopenhauer was very concerned about the welfare of animals. The word "will" designated, for him, force, power, impulse, energy, and desire; it is the closest word we have that can signify both the real essence of all external things and also our own direct, inner experience.


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Since every living thing possesses will, then humans and animals are fundamentally the same and can recognize themselves in each other. Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to living creatures cannot be a good man. Nothing leads more definitely to a recognition of the identity of the essential nature in animal and human phenomena than a study of zoology and anatomy. The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity.

Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality. Schopenhauer even went so far as to protest against the use of the pronoun "it" in reference to animals because it led to the treatment of them as though they were inanimate things. He was very attached to his succession of pet poodles. Schopenhauer criticized Spinoza's [] belief that animals are a mere means for the satisfaction of humans. In the third, expanded edition of The World as Will and Representation , Schopenhauer added an appendix to his chapter on the Metaphysics of Sexual Love.

He wrote that pederasty did have the benefit of preventing ill-begotten children. Concerning this, he stated that "the vice we are considering appears to work directly against the aims and ends of nature, and that in a matter that is all important and of the greatest concern to her it must in fact serve these very aims, although only indirectly, as a means for preventing greater evils". I have done so by giving them the opportunity of slandering me by saying that I defend and commend pederasty.

He was so impressed by their philosophy that he called them "the production of the highest human wisdom", and believed they contained superhuman concepts. The Upanishads was a great source of inspiration to Schopenhauer. Writing about them, he said:. It is the most satisfying and elevating reading with the exception of the original text which is possible in the world; it has been the solace of my life and will be the solace of my death.

The book Oupnekhat Upanishad always lay open on his table, and he invariably studied it before sleeping at night. He called the opening up of Sanskrit literature "the greatest gift of our century" and predicted that the philosophy and knowledge of the Upanishads would become the cherished faith of the West. Schopenhauer was first introduced to the Latin Upanishad translation through Friedrich Majer.

They met during the winter of — in Weimar at the home of Schopenhauer's mother according to the biographer Safranski. Majer was a follower of Herder , and an early Indologist. Schopenhauer did not begin a serious study of the Indic texts, however, until the summer of Sansfranski maintains that between and , Schopenhauer had another important cross-pollination with Indian thought in Dresden. This was through his neighbor of two years, Karl Christian Friedrich Krause.

Krause was then a minor and rather unorthodox philosopher who attempted to mix his own ideas with that of ancient Indian wisdom. Krause had also mastered Sanskrit , unlike Schopenhauer, and the two developed a professional relationship. It was from Krause that Schopenhauer learned meditation and received the closest thing to expert advice concerning Indian thought. Schopenhauer noted a correspondence between his doctrines and the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.

Thus three of the four "truths of the Buddha" correspond to Schopenhauer's doctrine of the will. For Schopenhauer, will had ontological primacy over the intellect. In other words, desire is prior to thought. If I wished to take the results of my philosophy as the standard of truth, I should have to concede to Buddhism pre-eminence over the others.


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  • In any case, it must be a pleasure to me to see my doctrine in such close agreement with a religion that the majority of men on earth hold as their own, for this numbers far more followers than any other. And this agreement must be yet the more pleasing to me, inasmuch as in my philosophizing I have certainly not been under its influence [emphasis added].

    For up till , when my work appeared, there was to be found in Europe only a very few accounts of Buddhism. Buddhist philosopher Nishitani Keiji , however, sought to distance Buddhism from Schopenhauer. This actual world of what is knowable, in which we are and which is in us, remains both the material and the limit of our consideration. The argument that Buddhism affected Schopenhauer's philosophy more than any other Dharmic faith loses more credence when viewed in light of the fact that Schopenhauer did not begin a serious study of Buddhism until after the publication of The World as Will and Representation in They are included in a recent case study that traces Schopenhauer's interest in Buddhism and documents its influence.

    Some traditions in Western esotericism and parapsychology interested Schopenhauer and influenced his philosophical theories.

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    He praised animal magnetism as evidence for the reality of magic in his On the Will in Nature , and went so far as to accept the division of magic into left-hand and right-hand magic , although he doubted the existence of demons. Schopenhauer grounded magic in the Will and claimed all forms of magical transformation depended on the human Will, not on ritual. This theory notably parallels Aleister Crowley 's system of magick and its emphasis on human will. Neoplatonism , including the traditions of Plotinus and to a lesser extent Marsilio Ficino , has also been cited as an influence on Schopenhauer.

    In his student years Schopenhauer went more often to lectures in the sciences than philosophy. He kept a strong interest as his personal library contained near to books of scientific literature at his death, and his works refer to scientific titles not found in the library. Many evenings were spent in the theatre, opera and ballet; the operas of Mozart , Rossini and Bellini were especially esteemed.

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    As a polyglot, the philosopher knew German , Italian , Spanish , French , English, Latin and ancient Greek , and he was an avid reader of poetry and literature. If Goethe had not been sent into the world simultaneously with Kant in order to counterbalance him, so to speak, in the spirit of the age, the latter would have been haunted like a nightmare many an aspiring mind and would have oppressed it with great affliction. But now the two have an infinitely wholesome effect from opposite directions and will probably raise the German spirit to a height surpassing even that of antiquity.

    In philosophy, his most important influences were, according to himself, Kant, Plato and the Upanishads. If the reader has also received the benefit of the Vedas, the access to which by means of the Upanishads is in my eyes the greatest privilege which this still young century may claim before all previous centuries, if then the reader, I say, has received his initiation in primeval Indian wisdom, and received it with an open heart, he will be prepared in the very best way for hearing what I have to tell him.

    It will not sound to him strange, as to many others, much less disagreeable; for I might, if it did not sound conceited, contend that every one of the detached statements which constitute the Upanishads, may be deduced as a necessary result from the fundamental thoughts which I have to enunciate, though those deductions themselves are by no means to be found there. Schopenhauer saw Bruno and Spinoza as unique philosophers who were not bound to their age or nation.

    Consequently, there is no place for God as creator of the world in their philosophy, but God is the world itself. Schopenhauer expressed his regret that Spinoza stuck for the presentation of his philosophy with the concepts of scholasticism and Cartesian philosophy , and tried to use geometrical proofs that do not hold because of the vagueness and wideness of the definitions. It is the common preference of philosophers of abstraction over perception. Bruno on the other hand, who knew much about nature and ancient literature, presents his ideas with Italian vividness, and is amongst philosophers the only one who comes near Plato's poetic and dramatic power of exposition.

    Schopenhauer noted that their philosophies do not provide any ethics, and it is therefore very remarkable that Spinoza called his main work Ethics. In fact, it could be considered complete from the standpoint of life-affirmation, if one completely ignores morality and self-denial. The importance of Kant for Schopenhauer, in philosophy as well as on a personal level, can hardly be overstated. The philosophy of Kant was the foundation of his own.

    Schopenhauer maintained that Kant stands in the same relation to philosophers such as Berkeley and Plato , as Copernicus to Hicetas , Philolaus , and Aristarchus: Kant succeeded in demonstrating what previous philosophers merely asserted. In his study room one bust was of Buddha , the other was of Kant. Schopenhauer dedicated one fifth of his main work, The World as Will and Representation , to a criticism of the Kantian philosophy.

    For there are men in whom the sight of another man at once rouses a feeling of enmity, since their inmost nature exclaims at once: That is not me! There are, others in whom the sight awakens immediate sympathy; their inmost nature says: That is me over again! Between the two there are countless degrees. That in this most important matter we are so totally different is a great problem, nay, a mystery. In regard to this a priori nature of moral character there is matter for varied reflection in a work by Bastholm, a Danish writer, entitled Historical Contributions to the Knowledge of Man in the Savage State.

    He is struck by the fact that intellectual culture and moral excellence are shown to be entirely independent of each other, inasmuch as one is often found without the other. The reason of this, as we shall find, is simply that moral excellence in no wise springs from reflection, which is developed by intellectual culture, but from the will itself, the constitution of which is innate and not susceptible in itself of any improvement by means of education.

    Bastholm represents most nations as very vicious and immoral; and on the other hand he reports that excellent traits of character are found amongst some savage peoples; as, for instance, amongst the Orotchyses, the inhabitants of the island Savu, the Tunguses, and the Pelew islanders.

    The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer; On Human Nature : Arthur Schopenhauer :

    He thus attempts to solve the problem, How it is that some tribes are so remarkably good, when their neighbours are all bad,. It seems to me that the difficulty may be explained as follows: Moral qualities, as we know, are heritable, and an isolated tribe, such as is described, might take its rise in some one family, and ultimately in a single ancestor who happened to be a good man, and then maintain its purity.

    Is it not the case, for instance, that on many unpleasant occasions, such as repudiation of public debts, filibustering raids and so on, the English have often reminded the North Americans of their descent from English penal colonists? It is a reproach, however, which can apply only to a small part of the population.

    Nay, that is the most perfect test of all, for in a matter of importance people are on their guard; in trifles they follow their natural bent without much reflection.


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    For who will believe that the man who every day shows that he is unjust in all matters other than those which concern property, and whose boundless selfishness everywhere protrudes through the small affairs of ordinary life which are subject to no scrutiny, like a dirty shirt through the holes of a ragged jacket — who, I ask, will believe that such a man will act honourably in matters of meum and tuum without any other incentive but that of justice?

    The man who has no conscience in small things will be a scoundrel in big things. If we neglect small traits of character, we have only ourselves to blame if we afterwards learn to our disadvantage what this character is in the great affairs of life. On the same principle, we ought to break with so-called friends even in matters of trifling moment, if they show a character that is malicious or bad or vulgar, so that we may avoid the bad turn which only waits for an opportunity of being done us.

    The same thing applies to servants. Let it always be our maxim: Better alone than amongst traitors. No man becomes this or that by wishing to be it, however earnestly. His acts proceed from his innate and unalterable character, and they are more immediately and particularly determined by motives. It may be illustrated by the course of a planet, which is the result of the combined effect of the tangential energy with which it is endowed, and the centripetal energy which operates from the sun.

    In this simile the former energy represents character, and the latter the influence of motive. It is almost more than a mere simile. To grasp this fact is to see that we really never form anything more than a conjecture of what we shall do under circumstances which are still to happen; although we often take our conjecture for a resolve.

    When, for instance, in pursuance of a proposal, a man with the greatest sincerity, and even eagerness, accepts an engagement to do this or that on the occurrence of a certain future event, it is by no means certain that he will fulfil the engagement; unless he is so constituted that the promise which he gives, in itself and as such, is always and everywhere a motive sufficient for him, by acting upon him, through considerations of honour, like some external compulsion.

    But above and beyond this, what he will do on the occurrence of that event may be foretold from true and accurate knowledge of his character and the external circumstances under the influence of which he will fall; and it may with complete certainty be foretold from this alone. Nay, it is a very easy prophecy if he has been already seen in a like position; for he will inevitably do the same thing a second time, provided that on the first occasion he had a true and complete knowledge of the facts of the case. For, as I have often remarked, a final cause does not impel a man by being real, but by being known; causa finalis non movet secundum suum esse reale, sed secundum esse cognitum.

    This unalterable nature of character, and the consequent necessity of our actions, are made very clear to a man who has not, on any given occasion, behaved as he ought to have done, by showing a lack either of resolution or endurance or courage, or some other quality demanded at the moment. Afterwards he recognises what it is that he ought to have done; and, sincerely repenting of his incorrect behaviour, he thinks to himself, If the opportunity were offered to me again, I should act differently. It is offered once more; the same occasion recurs; and to his great astonishment he does precisely the same thing over again.

    World as Will , ii. It is a truth with which he was thoroughly imbued, and his intuitive wisdom expressed it in a concrete shape on every page. I shall here, however, give an instance of it in a case in which he makes it remarkably clear, without exhibiting any design or affectation in the matter; for he was a real artist and never set out from general ideas.

    His method was obviously to work up to the psychological truth which he grasped directly and intuitively, regardless of the fact that few would notice or understand it, and without the smallest idea that some dull and shallow fellows in Germany would one day proclaim far and wide that he wrote his works to illustrate moral commonplaces.

    I allude to the character of the Earl of Northumberland, whom we find in three plays in succession, although he does not take a leading part in any one of them; nay, he appears only in a few scenes distributed over fifteen acts. He makes the earl appear everywhere with a noble and knightly grace, and talk in language suitable to it; nay, he sometimes puts very beautiful and even elevated passages, into his mouth. At the same time he is very far from writing after the manner of Schiller, who was fond of painting the devil black, and whose moral approval or disapproval of the characters which he presented could be heard in their own words.

    With Shakespeare, and also with Goethe, every character, as long as he is on the stage and speaking, seems to be absolutely in the right, even though it were the devil himself. In this respect let the reader compare Duke Alba as he appears in Goethe with the same character in Schiller.

    A little later his insidious words induce the King to surrender. In the following act, when the King renounces the crown, Northumberland treats him with such harshness and contempt that the unlucky monarch is quite broken, and losing all patience once more exclaims to him: In the following tragedy, Henry IV. In the fourth act we see the rebels united, making preparations for the decisive battle on the morrow, and only waiting impatiently for Northumberland and his division.

    At last there arrives a letter from him, saying that he is ill, and that he cannot entrust his force to any one else; but that nevertheless the others should go forward with courage and make a brave fight. They do so, but, greatly weakened by his absence, they are completely defeated; most of their leaders are captured, and his own son, the valorous Hotspur, falls by the hand of the Prince of Wales.